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Further Explorations Where Do We Go From Here?
I am often asked questions regarding the overall role that psychedelics are to play in the world, and what effects they will have on both a planetary and individual scale. I would like to speculate on three such questions: What is the purpose of psychedelics? What lasting benefits and changes can be derived from their use? What will be the role of psychedelics in future societies?
There are numerous possible answers to these questions, and how the future develops is dependent on the decisions and actions of people in the world today. One possible scenario for the future is that all countries will become police states, psychedelic use will be completely suppressed, and life on this planet will be totally destroyed through nuclear or chemical warfare, or through the poisoning of earth's environment. I prefer to consider the brighter alternatives and attempt to do my part, however small, to make them reality.
THE LEGALIZATION OF DRUGS AND HEALING SOCIETY'S VIEW OF SUBSTANCE USE
I consider worldwide legalization of drugs to be inevitable. Recently major steps have been taken towards this in the European Community. Legalization is the only sane solution to the social/criminal mess that currently exists, and the first step to be taken in the readjustment of society's view of substance use. Being a drug user in America today is like being a Jew in Nazi Germany around 1938. Let's hope this situation stops escalating before cannabis smokers are sent to the gas chamber.
Within the current situation, anyone who wants drugs can find most items with little difficulty. The users are subject to highly inflated prices, possibly impure substances, the risk of arrest, and sometimes need to deal with criminal elements to obtain the drugs. There is a void of accurate unbiased information available to those who use or wish to use drugs, and the cultural attitude toward drug use is quite negative. The public is put at risk due to the violence that occurs in black-market drug wars. And since the price of drugs is inflated, addicts of certain substances must frequently steal to support their habit. All this could immediately end if drugs were legalized.
The only people who benefit from drugs being illegal are the drug dealers, and government agencies that can confiscate and keep the possessions of drug users. (Often possessions are confiscated from those only suspected of being involved with drugs.) Politicians in several third-world countries have been found to be profiting from the illicit drug trade. And I will be surprised if time does not reveal that many politicians of this country, who are publicly preaching against drugs, are secretly reaping profits from the illegal drug trade as well. That these politicians are also passing laws that allow the confiscation of a drug user's property makes this an even greater conspiracy. And don't forget that political power controls the media, which in turn influences the opinion of the masses.
In addition to removing criminal status from anyone who wants to change their state of mind, I feel we need a complete cultural reorientation toward substance use. The first step here is to identify why people desire to change their state of mind. Currently a large percentage of "drug users" use drugs as a means of escaping from a degenerating societal structure or an unsatisfactory life. This is frequently seen with alcohol, heroin, crack cocaine, and similar drugs. People approaching substance use from this perspective seldom have an interest in improving themselves or the state of affairs surrounding them.
With psychedelic drugs, the majority of users are pursuing a state of mind that is much finer than anything experienced in ordinary life. Many psychedelic users also attempt to make permanent changes in themselves, using the psychedelic state as a tool and guide for the continued development of their "base personality." This perspective and purpose for substance use is in keeping with shamanic tradition. It is this perspective that needs to be understood, valued, and practiced by society at large before humanity can reap the multitude of benefits available through psychedelics.
With the proper perspective in place we can take a closer look at what psychedelics have to offer.
AFFINITY FOR ONE'S SELF AND OTHER PEOPLE
The most important benefit of psychedelics may be the sense of kinship felt for other people, and the respect for one's self that grows from these experiences. The family of empathogens is particularly noted for its ability to facilitate an acceptance and bonding with other people. Experiencing this state of mind even once can eliminate feelings of hatred, hostility, and prejudice that are so prevalent in the world today. I believe that if every politician in the world were given one properly guided ecstasy experience that there would be at least a 95 % reduction in wars. Widespread use of psychedelics would also reduce the amount of cruelty and violence between people. As working examples of this theory one can examine the environments where psychedelic use is popular: such as the "rave" scene, Grateful Dead concerts, or San Francisco during the "Summer of Love." Within each of these environments there is virtually no hostility or violence, and there is a feeling of goodwill between people. A psychedelic experience also shows one the variability of perspectives. After a psychedelic trip one is likely to hold their own perspectives less rigidly, and also be more tolerant of the perspectives of others.
APPRECIATION OF NATURE, RECOGNITION OF HUMANITY'S SMALLNESS AND OF OUR BEING AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE UNIVERSE
Humans have developed a state of mind that is very self-centered. This has resulted in humanity's thrashing of the environment which has only gained public attention in recent years. Humanity has decided to live for today only, without giving much thought to the future. Many people appear to feel that they are above nature in such a manner as that they will get more from watching a weekly TV series than anything nature might have to offer them. Psychedelics frequently change one's perspectives in these regards. The psychedelic user is likely to have an appreciation of the vastness of the universe, the finiteness of humanity's current knowledge, and the myriad possible experiences of life. The user of psychedelic plants is likely to be awed by the incredible power and knowledge contained within the vegetable kingdom, and abandon the perspective of humankind as the sole dominator of nature. Furthermore, psychedelics can actually make one sensitive to the point of perceiving the feelings of "insentient" life such as plants, producing a sense of kinship, and a desire to share the planet with other life forms.
SELF-DEVELOPMENT ON NUMEROUS FRONTS
Psychedelics can help the user develop in many ways. The primary development that tends to occur is a general broadening of perspectives and life experience. Each time one embarks on a psychedelic voyage the familiar mode of viewing the world is temporarily set aside and the voyager has a chance to view life with the "filter of conditioning" removed. Although a new filter is created as the psychedelic state fades, the tripper's post-session reality should be permanently changed, at least to a small degree. After a psychedelic trip one has the vantage point of having experienced life as though he or she had been a different entity. One's "filter of conditioning" should become less biased as one experiences life through a multitude of viewpoints. It is also likely for a tripper's filter to become less rigid as he or she becomes familiar with its underlying fluidity.
It is not uncommon for psychedelic users to come to the realization that what they have called "reality" is but an arbitrary view of life. The next step in this sequence is acknowledgment that one's experience of life can be consciously changed to their will. For me this has resulted in an expansion of my abilities and what I consider possible to do. Psychedelics should also expand one's ambitions and desire to obtain the most out of life. Once you've experienced heaven it is difficult to remain satisfied with a mediocre state of existence. For one's life to be strongly affected by psychedelics it is usually necessary to make the insights gained during the psychedelic experience part of their regular frame of mind. This requires some type of follow through after one's Journeys, possibly a spiritual or psychological practice that will help avoid slipping back into routine patterns. This can take much more effort than the psychedelic experience itself, but the rewards can be well worth the effort.
The ability of psychedelics to stimulate artistic creativity is well known. The cultural revolution that began in the Sixties has many outstanding examples. In the Psychedelics Encyclopedia Peter Stafford describes several surveys of artists who tried psychedelics and how it affected their work.
TAPPING NORMALLY DORMANT ABILITIES OF OUR MINDS AND DEVELOPING "ULTRA-CONSCIOUSNESS"
Psychedelics are fascinating because they allow people to have experiences outside the realms we normally consider possible. This can include such experiences as telepathy, astral travel, visibility into the past and future evolutionary blueprint, increased sensitivity of the senses, increased range of the senses such as visibility in the infrared spectrum and audibility beyond the normal range of human hearing, communication with non-physical entities, access to the mind's "programming" or "machine" language, and access to normally unconscious realms via Ketamine and DMT.
Psychedelics can also give one's mind a focusing and resolving ability comparable to a microscope's ability to render visible what could not otherwise be seen. One can focus the mind into the realm of thought for deep philosophizing, or turn it toward perceptions for a richer experience. The enhanced perception common while listening to music on psychedelics makes a good example of this resolving ability. The sound of a large musical ensemble is normally too thick to distinguish all the details of the sound. Listening to the same piece of music on LSD one is able to hear many more distinct instruments, possibly down to the individual notes. Frequently LSD will help me to distinguish lyrics in music which I could not distinguish in a sober state of mind. Listening to music in a psychedelicized state can also allow one to gain a deeper experience of the music and a greater understanding of what the musicians are trying to convey. This clearer perception of the artist's intent results from more of a "soul-to-soul" connection, and is not entirely based on the increased auditory sensitivity and resolving power of the mind.
These abilities can also be described as an enlargement of what one's mind is able to take in at any given moment. While looking at, say, a tree, normally someone can recognize the tree as a tree, see its leaves and overall shape, or concentrate on any section of the tree. However, it is beyond most people's ability to simultaneously perceive each of the 100,000 or so leaves that are actually making up the image. With psychedelics one can perceive significantly more than in normal awareness. This can be most spectacular in a beautiful natural setting such as the coast line or the Grand Canyon. Experiments with LSD in the Sixties found an average increase of ten points in the IQ test results of those administered LSD 1. This presents a massive potential for increasing one's intelligence.
Experiences into normally unconscious realms can be both fascinating and frightening. Tuning into these realms is like gaining admittance to a new dimension. These non-physical realms have been explored for millennia by shamans and mystics and offer a tremendous volume of information and experiences. My LSD trip in Death Valley described in the Multiple Combinations chapter, is one example of this type of experience. The mind is the final frontier and psychedelics are the most powerful tools for inner exploration.
THE ROLE OF PSYCHEDELICS IN FUTURE SOCIETIES
Once the world recognizes the values of psychedelics there will be a rush to develop these potentials to their maximum. Psychedelics will be used as tools to enhance learning, communication, creativity, and problem solving. Psychedelics will strongly affect the views and morals of humanity, and create a race that would rather live together in harmony than constantly be working against different factions of itself.
There will be a push to develop new psychedelics with specific effects, and others having effects not attainable with the contemporary psychedelics. There will be intensive research projects to delve into and map the newly accessible areas of the mind. Being a fan of science fiction, I believe that such skills as telepathy and psychokinesis will be practiced on a large scale, and psychedelics will play a major role in developing these potentialities.
The term "evolutionary agents" is frequently used when discussing psychedelics and I find this to be an appropriate description. If one is willing to entertain the idea that humanity has not reached the ultimate end of evolution, it is easy to see that psychedelics act as catalysts to develop higher abilities in the mind. In summary psychedelics will change humanity into a peaceful, more intelligent, fastly evolving society. As Terence McKenna says "If it's not a future with psychedelics, what kind of future will it be?"
1 See The Psychedelics Encyclopedia by Peter Stafford, first edition
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